3p Contributor: CSRHUB

CSRHub provides access to corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information on nearly 5,000 companies from 135 industries in 65 countries. Managers, researchers and activists use CSRHub to benchmark company performance, learn how stakeholders evaluate company CSR practices and seek ways to change the world.CSRHub rates 12 indicators of employee, environment, community and governance performance and flags many special issues. We offer subscribers immediate access to millions of detailed data points from our 140-plus data sources. Our data comes from six socially responsible investing firms, well-known indexes, publications, “best of” or “worst of” lists, NGOs, crowd sources and government agencies. By aggregating and normalizing the information from these sources, CSRHub has created a broad, consistent rating system and a searchable database that links each rating point back to its source.

Recent Articles

Imagine If Harvard Took on Climate Change

| Monday November 18th, 2013 | 0 Comments

Harvard

As previously seen on the CSRHub blog.

By Carol Pierson Holding

It was with a heavy heart that we read President Drew Faust’s announcement that Harvard would not join the Fossil Fuel Divestment movement. At 1,275 words, her statement acknowledges how seriously Harvard’s administration considered the issue. The statement opens with “Climate change represents one of the world’s most consequential challenges,” but “divestment from the fossil fuel industry is (neither) warranted or wise.”

On October 17, Seattle’s Mayor Michael McGinn wrote an impassioned protest for Huffington Post that lays out the arguments against Harvard’s stance, but it was surely no surprise to anyone. Harvard has a history of withstanding divestment movements, refusing to join even the anti-Apartheid divestment until ten years after protests began.

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Why We Encourage More Companies to Report Their Sustainability Performance

| Friday August 23rd, 2013 | 1 Comment

Want to learn more about sustainability reporting? Consider an upcoming course in the Bay Area or Seattle GRI certified courses on sustainability reporting.

reportAs previously seen on the CSRHub blog.

By Bahar Gidwani

We were recently invited by our friends at Trucost to moderate a webinar.  Our shared goal was to encourage more companies to start reporting their sustainability performance.

You can download the webinar from the Trucost site here.  However, I thought I’d share a few of the things I learned from preparing for the talk and from the other panelists.

I started the webinar by sharing some figures from the CSRHub database.  I showed the audience that only 30 percent of companies in developing countries outside the U.S. are using one of the three main reporting systems (the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), the Carbon Disclosure Project (now CDP), and the UN Global Compact or UNGC). U.S. companies lag far behind—with only about 10 percent of the companies we track reporting via these systems.

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Which Sustainability Factors Are Most Linked to Brand Strength?

| Monday July 22nd, 2013 | 0 Comments

The following is part of a series by our friends at CSRHub (a 3p sponsor) – offering free sustainability and corporate social responsibility ratings on over 7,300 of the world’s largest publicly traded and private companies. 3p readers get 15% off CSRHub’s professional subscriptions with promo code “TP15.″ 

Brand-StrengthBy Bahar Gidwani

Part 5 of our 5-part series

As previously seen on the CSRHub blog.

In the previous posts in this series, we have described the relationship between Brand Finance’s Brand Strength Index and CSRHub’s sustainability rating.  The overall correlation between these large sets of data is strong—and it has been growing stronger.  We will now look at how each of the twelve individual components in CSRHub’s metric system relate to brand strength.

CSRHub ingests sustainability information from 230 sources that each have their own way of measuring and rating corporate social performance. In order to make sense of these different measures (we have more than 9,000 different indicators in our system), CSRHub has mapped each indicator from each source into one of twelve “subcategories.”  (You can see a description of this schema here.)  These subcategories are then grouped into four categories (with three subcategories in each category).

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More Positive Correlation Between Brand and Sustainability

| Thursday July 18th, 2013 | 0 Comments

The following is part of a series by our friends at CSRHub (a 3p sponsor) – offering free sustainability and corporate social responsibility ratings on over 7,300 of the world’s largest publicly traded and private companies. 3p readers get 15% off CSRHub’s professional subscriptions with promo code “TP15.″ 

By Bahar Gidwani

Part 4 of our 5-part series.

As previously seen on the CSRHub blog.

In the last post in this series, we examined our finding that brand strength and sustainability are correlated.  We found evidence that the relationship we have discovered between Brand Finance’s Brand Strength Index and CSRHub’s corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings are not due to random chance. Let’s assume the relationship is real. How has it changed over time?

Both Brand Finance and CSRHub have used consistent methods to evaluate companies over the past five years, from 2008 through 2012. Because we wanted to see how the brand-sustainability relationship changed for each year, we included all of the available company pairs for 2012 and then for each year, used only the companies that were also present in the following year.  While the number of companies studied in the earlier years is less than that in the latest data set, all years include more than 350 company data set comparisons.

Five years of data

Brand 5 year study

The correlation between the BSI and CSRHub’s overall rating averaged about 0.11 for the first four years of our study (2008 through 2011). The jump to 0.22 in 2012 is quite dramatic.

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Is the Correlation Between Brand Strength and Sustainability Due to Random Chance?

| Wednesday July 3rd, 2013 | 0 Comments

The following is part of a new series by our friends at CSRHub (a 3p sponsor) – offering free sustainability and corporate social responsibility ratings on over 7,300 of the world’s largest publicly traded and private companies. 3p readers get 15% off CSRHub’s professional subscriptions with promo code “TP15.” 

As previously seen on the CSRHub blog.

strengthBy Bahar Gidwani

Part 3 of a 5-part series

In the previous posts in this series, we showed that there is a strong correlation between brand strength as measured by the Brand Finance Brand Strength Index and sustainability as measured by CSRHub’s metrics engine.  We promised to examine more closely whether or not the correlation we discovered is meaningful.

There are several ways to test the strength of the correlation between two sets of data.  The easiest is to estimate the probability that an observed correlation is actually zero (no correlation).  This probability is expressed via an “F” value.  An F value equal to one would indicate that the chance that the observed correlation is zero is the same as the chance that it is non-zero.  Given the ~1,000 data points we have, an F value above 4 would indicate only a 5 percent chance that the observed correlation is zero.  The “F” value for our simple brand value versus CSR correlation is 289.9—for our correlation of all CSR factors against brand value the F value is 31.8.  Both results suggest a vanishingly small chance that there is no correlation between the data sets.

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The Strong Link Between Brand Strength and Sustainability

| Wednesday June 26th, 2013 | 0 Comments

The following is part of a series by our friends at CSRHub (a 3p sponsor) – offering free sustainability and corporate social responsibility ratings on over 7,300 of the world’s largest publicly traded and private companies. 3p readers get 15% off CSRHub’s professional subscriptions with promo code “TP15.″ 

By Bahar Gidwani

Part 2 of a 5 part series

As previously seen on the CSRHub blog.

In a previous post, we laid the foundation for comparing a huge database on brand strength with the world’s largest database on corporate sustainability.  Our analysis follows for a strong correlation between the Brand Finance Brand Strength Index (BSI) and CSRHub’s overall sustainability performance rating (using the profile of the average CSRHub user).  The chart below shows this correlation for 1,079 companies.  It appears that about 22 percent of the variation in BSI can be explained by changes in perceived CSR performance.

brand vs. csr

CSRHub’s rating relies on four category ratings that in turn are based on twelve subcategory ratings.  When we perform a multivariate regression between the BSI and the twelve CSRHub subcategories, we get an even stronger correlation of 28 percent.

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The Tie Between Brand Value and Sustainability is Getting Stronger

| Wednesday June 19th, 2013 | 0 Comments

The following is part of a new series by our friends at CSRHub (a 3p sponsor) – offering free sustainability and corporate social responsibility ratings on over 7,300 of the world’s largest publicly traded and private companies. 3p readers get 15% off CSRHub’s professional subscriptions with promo code “TP15.″

As previously seen on the CSRHub blog.

tieBy Bahar Gidwani

Part 1 in a 5-part series.

Does a company that invests in sustainability increase its brand value? What parts of sustainability performance seem to drive brand? This is the first of five posts about a new, broad, multi-year study that shows that the connection between sustainability performance and brand value has increased dramatically during the past year. The study has also revealed that some aspects of sustainability are more closely related to brand, than others.

Several groups have published studies that purport to prove a connection between sustainability and brand. These studies are widely cited by both branding experts and sustainability professionals. For instance, The Conference Board has published a three part series of Director Notes on the relationship between “real” ESG (environmental, social, and governance) performance and “perceived” performance as measured via a brand strength indicator.

These and other past studies have tended to focus on a few hundred top companies and on industries that are perceived to be brand-driven such as consumer products and business services. Because most sustainability performance data sets were created to serve investors, they tend to cover only large public companies in developed countries. There are few data sets that cover more than 3,000 companies or that extend back in time more than five years.

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New Insights into the Correlation Between CSR and Brand Strength

| Tuesday June 11th, 2013 | 4 Comments

The following is part of a series by our friends at CSRHub (a 3p sponsor) – offering free sustainability and corporate social responsibility ratings on over 7,300 of the world’s largest publicly traded and private companies. 3p readers get 15% off CSRHub’s professional subscriptions with promo code “TP15.″ 

As previously seen on the CSRHub blog.

By Cynthia Figge

An interview with Cynthia Figge and 3p’s Nick Aster follows...

Sustainable Brands 2013Why are we all here? Because we believe that a company that invests in sustainability increases its brand value, right? I’m going to unveil some research that proves the relationship between brand and CSR is even more profound than we thought — around the world, across industry type, and company size.

Even more exciting, last year, that correlation more than doubled in strength.

My company, CSRHub, the world’s largest aggregator of global CSR information, ran five years of our data against the data of Brand Finance, the global brand analyst headquartered in London.

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Why We Encourage More Companies to Report Their Sustainability Performance

| Wednesday June 5th, 2013 | 0 Comments

The following is part of a series by our friends at CSRHub (a 3p sponsor) – offering free sustainability and corporate social responsibility ratings on over 7,300 of the world’s largest publicly traded  and private companies. 3p readers get 15% off CSRHub’s professional subscriptions with promo code “TP15.″ 

reportAs previously seen on the CSRHub blog.

By Bahar Gidwani

We were recently invited by our friends at Trucost to moderate a webinar.  Our shared goal was to encourage more companies to start reporting their sustainability performance.

You can download the webinar from the Trucost site here.  However, I thought I’d share a few of the things I learned from preparing for the talk and from the other panelists.

I started the webinar by sharing some figures from the CSRHub database.  I showed the audience that only 30 percent of companies in developing countries outside the U.S. are using one of the three main reporting systems (the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), the Carbon Disclosure Project (now CDP), and the UN Global Compact or UNGC). U.S. companies lag far behind—with only about 10 percent of the companies we track reporting via these systems.

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Will ‘Resilience’ Replace Sustainability?

| Wednesday May 15th, 2013 | 7 Comments

The following is part of a series by our friends at CSRHub (a 3p sponsor) – offering free sustainability and corporate social responsibility ratings on over 7,300 of the world’s largest publicly traded and private companies.

solar
By Carol Pierson Holding

Last week, the wine-making town of Sebastopol became the second California city after Lancaster to require that solar panels be installed in all new building construction.

Among the driving forces for Sebastopol’s solar are local realtors, who are going door to door, selling the program as a safeguard against power loss and rising prices. Sustainability is still a strong motivation for some in this liberal-leaning town, but it is resilience that’s motivating support from local businesspeople.

The anti-solar forces supported by Heritage Foundation and Fox News’ claim that California will face more rolling blackouts from the state’s increasing reliance on renewable energy. But watching the two sides duke it out on Fox Business, it looks to this viewer like Fox’s tactic could backfire in the face of the very real resilience of renewable power.

I’ll bet you’ll hear more about “resilience.” In the past, the “sustainability” movement has struggled with language. “Global warming.” “Climate change.” “Rising sea levels.” And perhaps the most problematic, “sustainability” itself.

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Is Environmental Optimism Finally Growing?

| Thursday May 2nd, 2013 | 1 Comment

The following is part of a series by our friends at CSRHub (a 3p sponsor) – offering free sustainability and corporate social responsibility ratings on over 7,000 of the world’s largest publicly traded and private companies. 

By Carol Pierson Holding

Gen X environmentalistIn March, I attended a pancake breakfast with residents of NYU’s Green House, a small dorm set aside for upperclass students who want to “shrink their environmental footprint.” I asked one future biochemist what she thought about NYU’s environmental program. Her bright young face turned sour as she complained that her environmental studies were dominated by disaster science. Where was the hope, she wanted to know?

Her complaint explained a lot of what I was seeing. Interest in climate change is low among the Gen X cohort. Environmental protests have fewer young people than older. Low demand for slots at environmental graduate schools holds acceptance rates at an average 50 percent of applicants. How awful to hear it confirmed by a current member of this cohort: the message of climate change urgency is failing.

In his article, “Pessimism Is Impeding Environmental Advocacy,” Richard Matthews explains the phenomenon:

Decades of research show that appeals to fear can easily backfire causing recipients to reduce the fear without reducing the danger, perhaps by denying that there is anything to fear or concluding that the fear appeal was a manipulation attempt by an untrustworthy source.

Paul Bain (School of Psychology, University of Queensland) and his colleagues conducted a study that shows that informing people about the expected impacts of climate change had no effect on their positions. What did change the positions was thinking about how limiting greenhouse-gas emissions might promote interpersonal warmth and scientific and technological progress. Bain’s research shows that approaches based on hope work far better than fear.

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Coal Investments May Implode

| Thursday April 18th, 2013 | 3 Comments

The following is part of a series by our friends at CSRHub (a 3p sponsor) – offering free sustainability and corporate social responsibility ratings on over 7,000 of the world’s largest publicly traded  and private companies. 

As previously seen on the CSRHub blog.

coal bankrupting suburbs

By Carol Pierson Holding

In the most recent sign that coal is in trouble, Wyoming’s only new coal mine, Kiewit’s Haystack Mine, halted construction last week before shipping any coal: “The coal market is very, very soft,” Uinta County Economic Development Director, Dell Atkinson, told the Uinta County Herald. “It’s off about 11 percent from last year. They’ve got more coal than they can use right now.”

As reported by Ross Macfarlane, Senior Advisor, Business Partnerships for Climate Solutions, the only other new mine in the state, Cloud Peak’s Young Creek Mine, has been indefinitely delayed, awaiting word on export ports.

Exporting coal from the proposed West Coast coal ports is coal companies’ only hope.

The investment required is enormous. Train tracks must be upgraded and new ports built. Because of local objections to coal ports, the coal and train companies are pouring additional millions into PR and ad campaigns to change the minds of local citizens and lawyers to lobby local, state and federal politicians.

The motivation for the companies is clear – it’s survival. But what’s the motivation for investors?

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Coal Port Sponsors Encounter the Global Village

| Wednesday April 10th, 2013 | 0 Comments

The following is part of a series by our friends at CSRHub (a 3p sponsor) – offering free sustainability and corporate social responsibility ratings on over 7,000 of the world’s largest publicly traded and private companies. 3p readers get 25% off CSRHub’s professional subscriptions with promo code “TP25.″

USA Canadian borderAs previously seen on the CSRHub blog.

By Carol Pierson Holding

A retired nurse friend related a story last week, told to her by the young waitress at the Vol du Vent restaurant in the picturesque beach town of White Rock, British Columbia.  As the waitress was serving lunch, a train filled with coal passed between the restaurant and Semiamoo Bay. After her view cleared and the noise had abated, my friend mentioned her fear of the coal ports proposed for five Pacific Northwest sites and the harm to health the coal dust would inflict.

The waitress claimed empty cars were the worst offenders. Her house is covered with dust that is not tamped by the surfactant sprayed on full coal loads. Black soot enters through her windows to rest on blinds and furniture. Colors in her early spring flowerbed are greyed. She was too young to think about health impacts, but her images were heartbreaking.

The next day, still recovering from my friend’s apocalyptic nightmare and its implications for proposed coal ports near me in Washington State, I stopped everything to read the Sightline Weekly Newsletter headlined “Coal Exports: Two Weeks of Good News.”

I wasn’t disappointed.

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Shell’s Self-Serving Scenarios

| Tuesday March 12th, 2013 | 0 Comments

The following is part of a series by our friends at CSRHub (a 3p sponsor) – offering free sustainability and corporate social responsibility ratings on about 7,000 of the world’s largest publicly traded companies. 3p readers get 25% off CSRHub’s professional subscriptions with promo code “TP25.″ 

Shell’s Self-serving Scenarios

By Carol Pierson Holding

According to Shell’s New Lens Scenarios, we’re headed for a carbon-free future, where solar will be the dominant energy source by 2100. The report got pretty universally upbeat press, praised in business and even environmental websites and by Amory Lovins, Chief Scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute, who seemed to endorse the report, saying, “Shell is the most far-sighted and strategic of the majors, largely because the Scenarios informed the thinking of Shell leadership and many others in the energy ecosystem.”

And Shell gets the highest social responsiblity rating from CSRHub of any big oil company.

But assuming that the maximum additional carbon the earth can absorb is 565 gigatons of CO2 and that study after study predicts that “carbon emissions will grow by roughly three percent a year… (exceeding the) 565-gigaton allowance in 16 years,” we’ll be facing Armageddon long before we’ve shifted from carbon-producing fuel to Shell’s scenario, then the report is hardly encouraging.

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Does Materiality Serve Regulators or Stakeholders?

| Thursday February 28th, 2013 | 1 Comment

The following is part of a series by our friends at CSRHub (a 3p sponsor) – offering free sustainability and corporate social responsibility ratings on about 7,000 of the world’s largest publicly traded companies. 3p readers get 25% off CSRHub’s professional subscriptions with promo code “TP25.″ 

By Bahar Gidwani

gold w captionOur friends at Agrion organized a Sustainability Summit last week.  About 250 people gathered in New York to discuss various aspects of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability practice.  I had the opportunity to lead an all-star panel on materiality in sustainability reporting.  (Our panel included speakers from NASDAQ, Bloomberg, Rockefeller, and the CFA Institute.)

When we met ahead of the meeting, our group expressed a collective fear that we’d put our audience to sleep. Materiality can be a pretty technical subject.  Here’s a quick definition of the word, in case you need it: Materiality is a measure of the estimated effect that the presence or absence of an item of information may have on the accuracy or validity of a statement.

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